Lady Techsters land inaugural NCAA title

Editor's note: As the NCAA celebrates its 25th season of women's basketball, ESPN and ESPN.com count down the top 25 moments of NCAA Tournament history. Here, we continue the countdown with memorable NCAA moment No. 14, Louisiana Tech winning the inaugural national championship.

For women's college basketball, the March Madness all began 25 years ago with the first NCAA championship. Thirty-two teams comprised the tournament field, and the inaugural champion had to win five games to wear the crown.

Louisiana Tech entered among the favorites in 1982. In the previous two seasons, the Lady Techsters had played for the AIAW national championship, losing in 1980 to Old Dominion but prevailing in 1981, when Tech ripped off a 34-0 season en route to the AIAW title.

The nucleus of that team was back for a run at the first NCAA title. Seniors Pam Kelly and Angela Turner would be named Kodak All-Americans, with Kelly also claiming the Wade Trophy. Junior Lori Scott was a 1,000-point scorer during her tenure in Ruston. Rounding out the starting lineup were future national team stars Janice Lawrence and Kim Mulkey, both sophomores. Debra Rodman and Jennifer White provided support off the bench.

Coach Sonja Hogg had put the pieces in place and assistant Leon Barmore made all the right moves en route to the championship.

Louisiana Tech entered the postseason 30-1. The only blemish was a loss to ODU, which snapped Tech's 54-game winning streak. The streak was an NCAA record for two decades until Connecticut set a new record of 70 consecutive wins a few years ago.

On March 12, 1982, Louisiana Tech was one of the first teams to take the court in the first round of the very first NCAA Tournament. La. Tech was the No. 1 seed in the Midwest, opening with a 114-52 home win against Tennessee Tech.

In the second round, Louisiana Tech trounced Arizona State 92-54. Next up, the Lady Techsters hosted Kentucky in the Elite Eight in what would be the final game in Ruston's Memorial Gym (as the Thomas Assembly Center became the new home for La. Tech basketball). The Wildcats were no match as the Lady Techsters rolled to an 82-60 victory.

Then it was on to the first Final Four in Norfolk, Va. Louisiana Tech was the only No. 1 seed to advance. Old Dominion and Long Beach State were upset in the second round, and Southern California lost to Tennessee in overtime in the Mideast Region final.

The Lady Vols tried to slow down Louisiana Tech in the national semifinals, but Tech was too much to handle. The Techsters took down Tennessee 69-46 to advance to the final against Cheyney State, a winner over Maryland in the other semifinal.

Attending the first women's championship game on March 28, 1982, were 9,531 fans. They witnessed a well-balanced Louisiana Tech attack dismantle Cheyney, coached by C. Vivian Stringer, 76-62.

Lawrence, the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, led the way with 20 points. Kelly and Rodman each registered a double-double. Turner tossed in 10 points and Mulkey handed out seven assists. Tech shot an unbelievable 56 percent from the floor in the final.

In an era before the 3-point shot, Louisiana Tech was one of the most potent offensive juggernauts in NCAA history. In 1982, the Lady Techsters scored more than 100 points in 11 games. They poured in 90-plus points on seven other occasions. In five NCAA Tournament wins, La. Tech boasted a 31-point average margin of victory.

In the Ruston Daily Leader the next day, Barmore ranked Tech amongst the best in the history of the game.

"Before the tournament, I didn't think we could be considered the greatest team ever unless we won the championship again," he said. "There's two banners hanging in Old Dominion Fieldhouse; there are three championship dates on a sign before you get to Delta State. Now, we can talk about being a great team along with those people."

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